We became Christians the same year that we got married (2002). Through reading the bible and learning about our faith, we learned about all of the things that most people take for granted. For example, why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Most people KNOW that Christmas is about baby Jesus being born and that Christians celebrate his birth. Maybe not everyone knows or cares why, but most people at least know that much. Head knowledge of something from a distance is so much different when you are up close and on the other side of the fence. All of a sudden we got it. We KNEW that Jesus was born to die for us, to save us from our sins, to rescue us, because God loved us so much. And we realized THAT was the entire point of celebrating Christmas. Because God loved us enough to send his son. Because that was the ultimate gift. And then sharing that gift with others.
I realize that there are plenty of ways to embrace Santa that really wouldn't be all that distracting. But it still felt wrong to us. Besides that, I never could get past the whole lying to my kid thing. It just felt bad. I get that the trade off is having fun and the anticipation of the surprises on Christmas morning (or whatever the exciting part is), but I couldn't do it. And by the way, we don't do the Easter Bunny thing either. We kind of do tooth fairy, but I never ever actually told him it was real. His friends had already told him that if you put your tooth under a pillow that a fairy will come and give you money. He never asked, he just told us he was going to do it. The first time he did ask, when he was 8, I told him the truth. He was disappointed, but I had never lied to him. Yeah, that may be hypocritical in some way, but I don't think it is so I don't feel bad. And the tooth fairy isn't distracting my children from any real life thing that is much more important. I also realize that most kids don't feel betrayed when they find out they have been lied to, but most kids do feel a crushing disappointment when they find out, and that Christmas is often a hard one. I wanted to avoid that whole situation as well.
I would never ever judge another family for what they choose to celebrate in their own home. I don't actually see a problem with Santa Clause, and I do not in any way feel that no one should do it. It just wasn't right for US. One thing that I have really enjoyed as a Christian is being around all of the other Christians and learning what they believe and why. I love to observe other families and see what works for them and sometimes that means our beliefs change because we see the way someone else chooses to do something and we pray and research and it changes us. I think that is how God uses us to help one another grow. If I didn't have a church family that I could rely on and share with and learn from... I would be lost. I would be stuck in my own little world with my own little ideas and it wouldn't be pretty. There are probably several things that we still embrace that would be better left out. Hopefully as we grow and learn, we will realize it and left go of anything unhealthy. I am very uncomfortable with the whole consumerism side of Christmas. I would be relieved if we never exchanged presents again as part of Christmas. At least not store bought ones. But I also realize it would be pretty hard on the kids because it's something we have always done and all of their close friends get big expensive presents, and it would be hard to be the only one left out. I don't think I could do that to them. Hopefully when they are older...
Starting this year, we are going to do a Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree represents the family tree, or genealogy of Jesus Christ. It tells the story of God's salvation plan, beginning with creation and continuing through the Old Testament, to the coming of the Messiah. The name comes from Isaiah 11:1, "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit." (NASB) Each day of Advent a homemade ornament is added to the Jesse Tree, a small tree made of evergreen branches. These symbolic ornaments can each represent a prophecy foretelling of Christ. Other variations include creating ornaments that represent the ancestors in the lineage of Christ, or using the various monogram symbols of Christianity as handmade ornaments.We wanted to do this last year, but I ran out of time to make the ornaments or research it properly, and was too busy planning for Hailey's 1st birthday party instead. The one we chose to use has a family devotional that goes with it for each day's ornament. I am very excited about it!
The original reason for this entire post was to tell you about a movie we watched last night. We watched
Veggie Tales: Saint Nicholas- A Story of Joyful Giving. We wanted something short and kind of Christmasy. I LOVE all things Veggie Tales and I was curious what their take on the whole Santa thing was going to be. It was awesome! It basically summed up our whole family's feelings about Christmas. I was surprised and it made me glad. I think all Christians should share this movie with their children. Which is why I am writing about it. We watched it on Netflix Watch Instantly. It's also available to buy in most places movies are sold, including directly from the Veggie Tales website: http://store.veggietales.com/saint-nicholas-veggied.htmtales-dvl. Here is a link to the preview on YouTube if you are interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHyoobnj3YA. It's not very long, and if you believe that Jesus' birth is the reason for Christmas, this movie is for you. It explains the joy of the season and why we give, better than any movie about the nativity ever could. You will not be disappointed. Alright, now I feel like a salesman. I hope Veggie Tales won't mind that I just plugged their movie but I couldn't help myself. It's a must see!